We are almost a week into Ramadan and I feel pretty good about things. I’ve not had an iftar alone since it started and this week I don’t think there’s a day I’m free so we have another week full of food and socializing and hugs. I think about home a lot during Ramadan and specifically my sisters in law, my nieces and nephews and my baby cousins. I called home today and my 5-year-old nephew asked me when I will come home. He’s waiting for the day I come back and don’t leave and it breaks my heart a little every time he asks me because I miss him so much. Life goes on, they are all getting bigger and older and growing into these awesome people and I am missing this.
I think about iftar with my oldest friend Meena and her family. How I would walk down the road to Aunty Lubna’s house and Meena would be there with her kids and we’d all drink big glasses of cold rooh afza with the basil seeds floating in it, which Meena always called frog spawn. Nothing is quite as refreshing as that creamy, rose-scented milkshake. It hits a spot after a day of fasting that nothing else can. But there was always good food and laughter and when Eid rolled around I would always get two Eids, because there was always food and celebration at their house as well as with my own family.
I think about my mum and dad. Ramadan was always our family, eating together at a table. Something we didn’t do so often at my house. We ate on the sofa watching TV once we were all bigger and didn’t all eat at the same time. Ramadan unified us and made us a family. My mum would make pakoras every day and we would heap them onto our plates in anticipation of hearing the adhan and shoving as many as we could into our mouths at once when we did. She is Queen of Pakoras. She would make them out of potato (great with hummus) and then broccoli, aubergine, courgette and bags of those frozen mixed veg. She would make the most killer tamarind mint chutney to go with them which was spicy and cool and sweet and sour all at once. Leftover pakoras went into spiced yogurt to make dain pakora and one year we had this obsession with feta and spring onion spring rolls.
I miss my family. Being away from them is hard, it was a necessary thing to do to be so far away but as time goes on there’s always a part of me that’s homesick. I wanted to go home this summer so badly but I can’t go anywhere till my green card is here and gets approved. So another year will roll on where I don’t see my family again till December, where we have two or three fleeting weeks where time flies by too fast.
Maryam Hassan is a 32 year old Photographer, Montessori Teacher, Wearer of Yellow from London who transplanted herself to Chicago in 2015. She likes punk music, hash browns, animal facts and mangoes.
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